There’s a storm raging outside my window. The wind is howling, the rain is pouring and all I want to do is curl up with coffee, a good book and a blanket, maybe take a nap. Instead, I know I promised I would write myself a post today. On my schedule I was supposed to write a post about “awe”. I had read an article recently published in Parade magazine inspired me to think about all the ordinary ways that we have awe in our lives. But I find myself looking at my favorite spot in my office area that’s crammed into a corner of the dining room. There are stars and moons hanging on the wall, hand-painted, glittered, and cut out by my and my friends hands. They are from a blanket fort party nearly 2 years ago. After investing so much time into cutting them out, tracing and painting them, I couldn’t bear to let them go. They are the whimsy of my space. I realized as I was sitting here, contemplating what I should write this morning that my stars and moons are a very simple form of awe. They remind me of fairytales and daydreams and moments of possibilities. When they hung in the blanket fort along with white Christmas lights, they filled the room with magic. When I see them, I am reminded of their magic.
In the article I read on awe, it was compared to seeing an amazing Vista or what astronauts experience when they look at Earth from space or how we feel we see a newborn baby. Until recently, awe was ignored. It was thought to be an elite emotion available to some but not all. But researchers are finding that that is not true. We are all able to experience just as we are able to experience happiness, sadness, fear, anger, disgust and surprise. Awe is now being considered a basic part of the human condition, an emotion we all need. I have experienced when I climbed the side of a mountain instead above a waterfall and watched it from its source. I have climbed rocky cliffs sides near the ocean and sat perched high above where the gulls fly. In fact, almost anytime I stand by the ocean I feel awe. But these experiences are not always available nor are they always advisable.
Sometimes awe borders on the edge of feeling great and feeling afraid. Sometimes we look into those vast big experiences, we we feel not just the beauty but also the fear of being in a precarious position. Instead we can look for awe in the small things like the delight of the baby giggle or the full moon on a clear night, or the way raindrops shimmer on plants or how stars and moons hang in the corner of an otherwise plain office. What can awe do for you? According to the Parade article, written by Paula Spencer Scott, awe benefits us because it binds us together, can help us see things in new ways, it can make us nicer and happier, it actually often alters our bodies because it is such a strong positive emotion. Scott also has a brief page on “7 Ways to Experience Awe in Everyday Life.” I didn’t see the list originally, so I came up with my own. Here are 10 ways to bring awe into your everyday life.